Which Cowboys rookie will make the biggest leap in 2016?
Nearly a year after the Dallas Cowboys landed one of the most talented draft classes in their history, which of those rookies will take the biggest step forward this season?
The Dallas Cowboys had a highly talented draft haul last season, landing three first round rated players in UConn defensive back Byron Jones, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, and LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins.
The Cowboys also drafted Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green, Minnesota linebacker Damien Wilson, Purdue defensive end Ryan Russell, Wyoming linebacker Mark Nzeocha, Virgina offensive tackle Laurence Gibson and Texas tight end Geoff Swaim. And Dallas also added a talented undrafted rookie to their roster in Iowa State defensive tackle David Irving.
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All of these rookies remain on the Cowboys roster except for one, Gibson.
Looking ahead to 2016, which of these sophomores will take the biggest step forward this upcoming season? With all due respect to the other players, I believe the answer lies with Jones, Gregory, Collins and Irving.
Jones started in 11 games this season for Dallas and was impressive. He recorded 66 total tackles and had eight passes defended, but the Cowboys first round pick was unable to come up with a single turnover.
Gregory was impressive in the offseason, recording three sacks in three preseason games. But an early ankle injury hindered his season, limiting his snaps and his stats. The pass rusher finished his rookie campaign without a regular season sack and a total of 11 tackles in 12 games.
Irving was a big surprise in Dallas after the Cowboys snatched him off of the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad in late September. The 6-7, 273 pound rookie immediately impressed and became a fixture of the Cowboys defensive line rotation all year.
Finally, there’s Collins who replaced starting left guard Ronald Leary early into the regular season. Starting in 11 games, the undrafted rookie had his ups and downs, but still showed enough to prove he belonged in the starting lineup.
My choice out of the three is Gregory. Collins, Irving and Jones were fairly impressive in their first season, and I expect a fair amount of growth from each in 2016. But Gregory struggled the most in 2015 and didn’t appear to be the same player after his Week One injury. I believe that after a full offseason program, the young pass rusher will regain his confidence and make the biggest impact of the four this upcoming season.
But what do you think? Which Cowboys rookie do you believe will make the biggest leap in 2016? Answer in our poll question below.
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